BCCDC: Don’t invite salmonella to Thanksgiving dinner

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BCCDC: Don't invite salmonella to Thanksgiving dinner
BCCDC: Don't invite salmonella to Thanksgiving dinner

It’s just about that time of year when turkeys fly off grocery store shelves as families prepare for their Thanksgiving feasts.

While gearing up for the fall holiday, however, the BC Centre for Disease Control is offering tips for how to keep salmonella off the menu.

There is an outbreak of Salmonella in Canada since 2017 linked to raw turkey and chicken – including 26 cases in B.C.

“Not properly cooking poultry increases the risk of illness for those who handle or eat it,” says Marsha Taylor, epidemiologist, BCCDC. “Salmonellosis is serious and it can ruin any Thanksgiving dinner, so remember to fully cook your turkey dinner and use a meat thermometer to ensure it is safe to eat.”

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Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74 Celsius or hotter to prevent sickness caused by Salmonella, a type of bacteria often found in poultry products, including chickens, eggs and turkey. Use a probe tip food thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature by inserting it into the breast or the inner thigh.

“It is important to remember raw juices from poultry can easily spread to surfaces from the sink if the meat is rinsed,” said Lorraine McIntyre, food safety specialist, BCCDC. “Instead of rinsing, pat the turkey dry with paper towels and then discard the towels into the compost to help prevent cross contamination.”

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Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal or contaminated product.

Symptoms include:

fever
chills
diarrhea
abdominal cramps
headache
nausea
vomiting

These symptoms usually last for four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. In some cases, severe illness and hospitalization may occur. In some cases, antibiotics may be required. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

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